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ACTIVE SUMMERS MEAN BETTER SCHOOL YEARS

In the summer, kids often fall into one of two modes – active or inactive.

Some see summer as a time to relax and sleep in to recoup from the demands of the school year. Others see it as a chance to get outdoors and burn off some energy. On average, kids become more fit during the school year and less fit over the summer. Other studies tracking childhood obesity also confirm that kids tend to maintain or achieve a healthier weight during the school year and then struggle over the summer.

Since fit kids do better academically, what can parents do to help their children stay active over the summer? Here are some useful ideas for making summer active, healthy and safe.

GET OUTSIDE

The City of Lincoln has 128 parks, 133 miles of trails, 10 pools, 5 recreation centers and 5 public golf courses. This makes it easier to get out and enjoy multiple low- to no-cost activities, especially as a family. You can ride bikes, take a swim, or play disc golf or kickball together, or more. If you’re looking for summer youth programs, many fun day camps work out your child’s mind and body. Check out parks.lincoln.ne.gov to locate Parks and Recreation locations, programs and events. Great programs are also available through the YMCA and the Salvation Army.

Other family activity opportunities this summer include Trail Trek on June 23 (gptn.org/trailtrek), the Cornhusker State Games from July 20-29 (cornhuskerstategames.com), and the Move More Lincoln free fitness classes all summer long (facebook.com/movemorelincoln). Cap off summer with Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln’s outdoor movement festival, "Streets Alive!" on Sept. 23 (healthylincoln.org/streetsalive). It is preceded by a 1.5 mile fun run for kids and adults. To find a variety of wellness events across Lincoln, see LNKTV Health’s community calendar at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: wellness calendar).

EATING HEALTHY

Staying healthy also means eating healthy. It may seem too obvious, but the easiest way to keep your kids from consuming junk food and sugary drinks is to simply not buy them. Kids will eat whatever you have in the house. If healthy options are available, that’s what they will eat and drink. For some older kids who may be on their own more this summer, teaching them how to prepare safe, healthy snacks or meals is key. For fun and simple ideas, check out the “Home Alone” video series with Michelle Welch, RD, from Lincoln Public School Wellness program, found on YouTube (@LNKTVhealth).

SAFETY FIRST

No matter what the activity, safety is always key. Teaching your children from an early age how to be safe and responsible will benefit them and others for a lifetime. Summertime is a great time to educate and remind them about always wearing a helmet when riding a bike, looking left-right-left when crossing any intersection, putting on sunscreen when heading outside, and learning how to swim and be safe in the water. Also, don’t forget to keep everyone properly hydrated, and never leave a child or pet in the hot car. For more safety tips, go to: SafeKidsLincoln.org.

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Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (HealthyLincoln.org) and LNKTV Health (LNKTVHealth.lincoln.ne.gov) bring you Health and the City, a monthly column that examines relevant community health issues and spotlights the local organizations whose work impacts the wellness of our community. Send questions or comments to jpearsonanderson@healthylincoln.org

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